The Improvement Association community action programs.

The Improvement Association serves several communities in Virginia, including the City of Emporia, Sussex, Brunswick, and Greenville. The non-profit community action agency offers numerous housing-related services and other support to families facing poverty.

Emergency home repairs are provided to owner-occupied dwellings in need of basic health and safety improvements, with priority given to seniors and disabled persons. Depending on resources, in some cases a low interest loan is issued to the homeowner, or volunteers may do the repair work as well.

Many updates may be made, including home modifications for handicap accessibility. The Improvement Association also assists with patching roofs, doing very basic water or wastewater system installation or repair, and more. Individuals in need should call to determine the availability of funding and receive referrals to additional resources, as this resource is very limited.

Furthermore, the Association offers counseling to help guide homeowners through the repair process. These services include a review of the applicant’s household finances to ensure that repairs are financially feasible and advice on how to select and oversee contractors.

The organization’s supportive services for veteran families (SSVF) aims to stop homelessness and promote housing stability among very low-income veteran’s and their families. There are government grants being used for those residing in a shelter or transitioning to permanent housing in regions such as Brunswick or the City of Emporia. SSVF provides intensive case management for clients as well, as part of this.

In addition, the non-profit administers the Section 8 housing choice voucher program, which can help with rental costs. The agency helps eligible families afford safe housing through a subsidized voucher or certificate program that provides financial assistance for monthly rent and utility bill payments.

Section 8 is flexible. Enrolled families may live in a home or private, low income apartment of their choosing as long as it meets safety standards determined by the state of Virginia as well as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).




As a HUD-approved housing counseling agency, The Improvement Association provides assistance with all aspects of buying and owning a home. For qualified individuals from the region, housing counseling is provided without regard to race, religion, income or national origin. All of the advice, support, and information from the comprehensive housing counseling program is free of charge.

The first-time homebuyers service offers key educational information to clients in advance of a home purchase. Instruction regarding legal aspects of home purchasing, budgeting skills, fair housing issues, tips on avoiding predatory lending, home maintenance, and mortgage shopping skills is available. The program from the HUD agency also investigates and cleans up the credit history of its participants.

The Improvement Association works to help resolve or prevent mortgage delinquency or default. The non-profit organization’s foreclosure prevention team offers individual and group counseling on restructuring debt. Staff work with borrowers on establishing reinstatement plans, seeking loan forbearance and managing household finances.

While people can struggle for many reasons, the program focuses on predatory lending, foreclosure prevention and education, and helping families develop realistic loss mitigation strategies. Individual counseling for clients behind on their mortgage payments entails direct negotiation with lenders in an effort to avoid foreclosure.

The regional community action agency helps clients secure or maintain residence in an affordable rental housing or apartments. This service includes individual counseling to help clients understand their obligations to being a tenant.

Using state funds, there may be some help from rental assistance programs as well. In addition to that one time support for people facing eviction, the agency can help tenants budget for those future rental payments they may be faced with. Other advice can help people gain knowledge of rights pertaining to renters and landlords, and learn what the eviction process involves in counties such as Greenville.

Note, as part of this service, counselors from the Improvement Association do not find housing for clients. However they provide information and guidance on how to search for and select an apartment or home to reside in.





The Improvement Association offers financial-skills education to residents to promote self-sufficiency by living within one’s means. As part of the agency’s housing counseling services, counselors work with people to review budgets and spending priorities.

Community Action provides emergency shelter and/or services for homeless individuals. The organization offers one-on-one counseling to determine clients’ immediate and long-term needs. Based on that review, there may be referrals made to local charity agencies to promptly provide housing, low interest loans for paying their expenses or short-term financial assistance.

Under the agency’s homelessness intervention program, families that meet income limits that are in crisis receive assistance in both locating and maintaining safe and suitable housing. State of Virginia grants are provided as part of this for rental costs, and case management is offered to eligible families.

Furthermore, fair housing counseling is available. The service includes evaluation of the merits of complaints and referrals to partner agencies to complete complaint filings under federal or state of Virginia fair housing laws.

Head Start and Early Head Start are educational programs run by Improvement Association under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It will provide comprehensive education, nutrition, health and parent-involvement services to low-income children and their families.

The state of Virginia Head Start program prepares children for kindergarten through cognitive, social, emotional and physical development. The free and confidential service is a federally funded and operates as a fully comprehensive preschool development program that aims to promote self-sufficiency by focusing on individual needs. In addition, the Association provides services to children with special needs and offers training and job opportunities for low income parents.




The Early Head Start program, meanwhile, serves pregnant women and families with infants and toddlers from Sussex and nearby towns. The resource is designed for children under the age of three and promotes healthy prenatal outcomes and family functioning.

The location of the agency is 1750 East Atlantic Street, Emporia, Virginia 23847. Call (434) 634-2490.


By Jon McNamara

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